Equity in Royalty and Sustainable Open Access Funding

The Lived Places Publishing Revenue Sharing Model

A commitment to equity and fairness begins with our revenue sharing model. At Lived Places Publishing, we designed our publishing model based on discipline-based and interdisciplinary collections of course readings, led by collection editors. Our collection editors take responsibility for the thematic direction of the collection, author recruiting, and editorial guidance for authors as they move through the writing process. Each Lived Places title is approved by the collection editor and carries the collection editor’s name along with the author’s name. Lived Places authors are asked to conceive of and deliver books appropriate for course reading content that (a) fit well within the collection or collections of choice and (b) highlight the experience of social identity and place, location, or context. In addition, these course reading titles are designed to support curricula. Each title includes learning objectives and recommended projects and assignments.

Equity Means Equity

The history and practice of author royalty in book publishing is a challenge to follow and rationalize, especially when viewed across time and industry change. For example, there has been significant divergence between print and e-book royalty, and between scholarly and trade publishing. In my career, I have seen author royalty range from as low as 2% to as high as 25%. The higher royalty rates have always been reserved for the highly successful authors and have been tied to performance targets (i.e. units sold) and recoverable advances. I have heard publishers make different arguments for lower royalty rates based on print versus e-books, the dynamics of the addressable market (e.g. narrow and niche or wide), and the level of investment in promotion and sales incentive. At Lived Places Publishing we believe equity means that a fair royalty be paid to all of our collection editors and authors, irrespective of the many variables the publishing industry has historically called on to create wide variability.

Funding Open Access

The Lived Places Publishing revenue sharing model extends to open access. We believe the revenue we generate must also sustain our efforts at open access publishing; specifically, we do not believe that book processing charges (BPCs) paid by the author or donor agencies are sustainable. BPCs require the author’s institution to pay a fee to publish. The BPC is established to offset the cost of publication and the average expected revenue the title will generate. Donor funds that underwrite open access are time-bound, restricted, and unpredictable as concerns renewal. At Lived Places we allocate a percentage of each sale to funding open access publishing at our average production cost, not inclusive of foregone, expected revenue. The Lived Places open access funding model is tied to our revenue generation, based on production cost only, and offered to authors at no institutional cost when open access publishing is preferred to receiving an author royalty.

A Transparent View into Lived Places Revenue Sharing

  • 50% of revenue is set aside to pay for the operation of the publishing house: Editorial services, production  services, distribution, content management systems, website design and management, ebook platform maintenance and feature user feature requirements, marketing and sales.
  • 20% of each sale is paid to author royalty
  • 10% of each sale is paid to collection editor royalty
  • 5% of each sale is pooled to funding open access
  • 15% of each sale is set aside to owner’s equity to be used at the discretion of the ownership to fund the growth of the publishing enterprise once breakeven has been achieved.

The Lived Places Publishing view on equity in revenue sharing is predicated on a belief that all authors and all collection editors deserve an equal percentage of sales and a royalty that is at the highest end of industry standards. We also believe our revenue sharing model must support open access publishing in a 100% sustainable model that does not require added fees paid by the institutions supporting the authors. And we believe that this information should be transparent.

If you like what you hear, follow our progress here. Hold us accountable and challenge us to remain true to our convictions as we build Lived Places Publishing. If we’re successful, we’ll challenge the rest of the industry to amend their practices.

David Parker, Publisher

P. S. We are actively seeking authors and collection editors, please get in touch if you are interested.

IMAGE CREDIT: Sheri Silver, used under the Unsplash License


Written by: David

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